NEWS

Frontex report expresses concern about Evros

A new report by the European Union?s border monitoring agency Frontex describes the situation at the Greek-Turkish border as ?unprecedented? and calls on Turkey to assume more responsibility as a key transit country for migrants because Greece is unable to cope with the relentless influx alone, Kathimerini has learned.

As the government moves ahead with plans to create reception centers for undocumented migrants at disused army bases and to build a fence at the northeastern border to deter illegal immigration, Frontex notes in its report that illegal migration flows into Greece this year have broken all previous European records. According to Frontex statistics, 31,000 would-be migrants were detained at the Greek-Turkish border between January and September of 2010.

Frontex, which in October dispatched nearly 200 border guards to work with Greek police and army officials in the northern region of Evros, drew particular attention in its report to a 12.5-kilometer section of the Greek-Turkish border between the villages of Kastanies and Nea Vyssa. This section – the only part of Greece?s 206-kilometer border with Turkey that is not delineated by the Evros River – is the most popular crossing for Europe-bound migrants with up to 350 stopped there every day, the report observes. It is this section of the border that Frontex guards have been helping Greek authorities to patrol. But, although the mobilization of Frontex in the region has been successful with a reported 40 percent drop in the influx of illegal immigrants between November and December, the drop has not pacified Greek authorities who believe that the construction of a fence is the only answer despite vehement protests by human rights organizations and opposition parties. According to the Greek police, more than half of some 47,000 migrants who entered Greece through Evros in 2010 did so through the 12.5-kilometer crossing.

According to police, the body of an African migrant aged between 20 and 25 was discovered on Saturday in a field close to the border. The man, who is believed to have died of hypothermia, is the third migrant found dead in the region in as many days. On Friday, the bodies of two would-be migrants were pulled out of the Evros River.